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Networking: Making Professional Connections

Most people do not land jobs through advertisements and online job postings—they find jobs through their professional and personal contacts, i.e. through networking. Networking, whether through a pre-planned meeting or an impromptu conversation at a conference, career fair, information session, or anywhere else - will likely help you find your first job and will also be crucial as you advance in your career.

Networking Basics

  • You may learn about job opportunities early in the search process, when you can still help shape the job descriptions and influence the level and pay range of the position.
  • You’ll face less competition, as only a few other people will access the organization through networking.
  • You’ll access potential employers who may not respond to a direct letter and resume.
  • You may be recommended by someone the manger knows, which will give you an added advantage.

Everyone is a Possible Contact

  • Your network is already quite large and you may not even know it. Consider family members, family friends, peers, classmates, social organizations, clubs, advisors, professors, co-workers, and recent graduates. Its not just about who you know, but who does your network know.
  • Tell family, friends, other students, and acquaintances about your career interests. Tap into their networks and share your own.
  • Join professional associations and attend conferences. These are excellent networking resources. Talk to your professors or do online research to locate them. Google “professional associations” and your field, and you’ll find many options.
  • Former supervisors and internship sponsors may be willing to suggest contacts in their field.
  • Faculty members often have connections beyond UMass Amherst. Discuss your search with them.
  • Have you attended a lecture or read an article by someone whose work you admire? Contact the person for further information.
  • Contact an organization directly to ask about arranging an informational interview (see more on informational interviewing below).

Next Steps: When you have identified potential networking contacts, the next step is to speak with them. An informational interview is a good low-pressure way to begin a conversation and provide you with first-hand information about a career, trends in that field, details on hiring, or insight on skills or qualities that employers are looking for. 

Consider these tips for informational interviews.

Networking Opportunities at UMass Career Services

As a UMass Amherst student, you can meet and interact with employers on campus in three ways: visit one of our career fairs, attend an employer information session, or take part in on-campus interviewing.

Career Fairs

Many employers use career fairs to promote their job opportunities and to pre-screen applicants. Most of these fairs consist of booths and tables staffed by recruiters and other representatives from each organization. For students, a fair can be an excellent place to gather information about potential employers, make contacts that could lead to a job, learn more about an employer’s application process and timeline, and discover new options.

Approach every job fair professionally. Bring copies of your resume, prepare to pitch yourself to potential employers, and dress and act appropriately. Download Make Your First Professional Contacts at the Career Fair and Sell Yourself at the Career Fair for tips on making the most of these events.

Information Sessions

Information sessions allow you to get in-depth information about an employer - from the employer. Representatives often discuss life at the organization, career paths, and currently available positions. Often, employers will schedule this information sessions before on-campus interviews. 

Bring thoughtful questions, dress appropriately, and use this opportunity to make a great first impression.

On-Campus Interviews

You may have opportunities to interview with prospective employers on campus. The companies who come to campus to interview are generally those who:

  • Have budgets and staff to travel
  • Anticipate multiple openings
  • Are seeking entry-level employees
  • Have had past success recruiting students at UMass Amherst

On-campus interviews are managed through the UMass Amherst CareerConnect portal. On the site, you will find a list of employers who have scheduled interviews and links to job descriptions and application instructions.